I recently returned from presenting at Design & Emotion 2006 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The conference was really very well run, and one of the best I’ve attended (the food was amazing!). My only complaint was the quality of some of the presentations. Now first off, let me make this clear. In almost all of the presentations, the material was very interesting and professionally researched. However, several observations…
- Many of the presentations were applications of work that was being done 20 or so years ago (i.e. self-report semantic differentials).
- Although the content quality was high, presentation quality was weak including:
- slides with small, unreadable text
- slides with huge amounts of text
- complex charts shown for only a few seconds
- lackluster speakers (one even read his novel-like slides and followed along with his cursor for the audience!)
Presenters need to understand that a presentation IS a performance. The audience will tune in or tune out at will, unless the presenter captures and commands their attention. One way to do this is to stagger the entry of text points on slides.
In much the same way that a film uses the motion of quick cuts to capture and hold attention (think of a music video), staggering the entry of text bullits directs attention to the bullits as they are displayed.
When a screen full of text appears, the reader is often unsure how long he/she has to read before the presenter moves the deck forward. This may cause feelings of anxiety that audience members relieve by not paying attention to your slides. Without attention, the brilliant content of your slides will never enter into the minds of your audience!